3D printed vertebrae surgical guide helps doctors treat scoliosis patient

Recently, a hospital in the Indian city of Mumbai demonstrated how critical 3D printed surgical guides can be

Original source: www.3ders.org

As the technology continually develops, 3D printing is quickly making inroads within the field of healthcare, being used for various medical applications. While its uses for manufacturing implants and prosthetics are still relatively experimental (though significantly on the rise globally), additive manufacturing has proved exceptionally useful for the production of custom surgical guides and bespoke models. Recently, a hospital in the Indian city of Mumbai demonstrated how critical 3D printed surgical guides can be.

In September 2016, a young ten-year-old girl suffering from severe scoliosis was brought into the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai for a revision scoliosis surgery. Scoliosis, a condition which causes curvature of the spine, affects many people around the world. Many can live with it, though severe cases can be impeding and even affect one’s breathing and mobility. Treating severe cases can be very complicated as well, as the process often requires doctors to implant screws and wires into the spine to straighten it and hold it in place.

In the case of the young patient, who had already undergone scoliosis surgery, the task at hand was even more complex as it necessitated the careful removal of previous implants. Additionally, because of such factors as bone regeneration, identifying elements like the screw angles and pedicles was more challenging and required extreme precision. The risk of miscalculating or wrongly inserting a new screw? A damaged spinal cord or nerve.

To help reduce risk during the young girl’s treatment, Dr. Abhay Nene and his associate Dr. Kunal Shah approached local 3D printing company Anatomiz3D LLP, an associate of Sahas Softech LLP, to 3D print a model of the patient’s spine. According to Anatomiz3D, the doctors sent them CT scans of the patient’s deformed spine just days before the surgery was to take place, prompting them to quickly turn those scans into 3D printed guides.

Firoza Kothari and Devarsh Vyas, two employees at Anatomiz3D, were in charge of designing a 3D printable model of the patient’s spine to be used as a drilling guide by the surgical team. To do this, the team used Materialise’s Mimics 19 biomedical suite, and were able to have a 3D printed version of the surgical model delivered to the doctors a day before the surgery.

The 3D printed model helped the doctors to closely examine the patient’s spine, allowing them to see exactly where previous implants had to be removed and at what angle new screws should be placed. The surgery, which took place on September 14, was a success, and the ten-year-old patient is reportedly recovering well.

According to the surgical team from the Lilavati Hospital, the 3D printed model was extremely useful, and they see the potential to use them in complex vertebrae cases, especially for those involving children with congenital deformities, revision scoliosis, and other severe deformities.